The Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), is an independent state agency with statutory responsibility to represent customers of Connecticut’s five regulated utilities – electric, gas, water, telephone, and to some extent, cable television, primarily in matters that go before the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). The OCC is authorized to participate on behalf of consumer interests in all administrative and judicial forums and in any matters in which the interests of consumers with respect to public utility matters may be involved.
The Office consists of attorneys, accountants, financial analysts, and support staff.
Historically, electric, gas, telephone, and water services have been considered natural monopolies and public necessities. In lieu of market place competition, the rates charged and quality of service provided by investor-owned companies (as opposed to municipal entities) are regulated by the PURA.
Since 1975, the Office of Consumer Counsel has been charged by state statute "to act as the advocate for consumer interests in all matters, which may affect Connecticut consumers with respect to public service companies." OCC is an automatic party to all contested cases brought before the PURA. The level of involvement depends on the type of case and nature of the consumer interest.
Consumer matters involving this office include utility company rates, quality of service, land sales, financial reviews, cable TV franchise renewals, new service offerings, promulgation of new regulations governing public utility companies, and consumer complaints. These issues affect virtually all residents of the state, and may encompass hundreds of millions of dollars.
The OCC works actively with the State Legislature, through the Energy and Technology Committee, in developing utility-related legislation in the best interests of Connecticut consumers. This may take the form of providing comments on formal testimony on proposed legislation, or working with the Committee in the development of such legislation.
As traditional public utility regulation is decreasing and competition is increasing, the role of this Office is changing. OCC will continue to fight for the most reasonable rates and the best utility service possible for all customers in areas where traditional regulation continues. With a more competitive environment, however, the emphasis on consumer protection is shifting and will become even more important. Consumer protections must be maintained.
If you want more information, please contact our office.
phone (860) 827-2900
fax (860) 827-2929